Who would be a king? Henri IV of France, the first Bourbon monarch, converted to Catholicism to end France's religious wars. His reward was to be assassinated by a fanatical Catholic in 1610. Henri's body was embalmed, but the head was lost after revolting citizens, annoyed by the excesses of one of his successors, ransacked the royal chapel at Saint Denis in 1793.
Now Henri's head has been located and identified, after years of being passed around as a curiosity between private collectors across Europe. It's all so undignified. This is surely the very definition of lèse-majesté. The royal head is now apparently going to be reburied at Saint Denis. But it seems a bit late to try and make up for these centuries of mistreatment now.
We have an alternative suggestion. The utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham argued that the embalmed bodies of great men should be made into statues on the grounds that it would be a waste to use stone to make a likeness.
So why not attach Henri's head to a body and give him a prominent position in Paris? At least then old king Henri would once again be able to gaze at his fellow Frenchmen and women with some small measure of dignity.Reuse content